To gaffe and gaffe not

There’s plenty of buzz about two alleged gaffes that have arisen in connection with Mitt Romney’s visit to England. The first is a genuine gaffe. Romney said that the logistical problems encountered in connection with the London Olympic games were “disconcerting.” Romney was only echoing what the Brits themselves had been moaning about for weeks. Indeed, Piers Morgan found Romney’s comments directly on point.

It doesn’t matter. A national leader shouldn’t publicly bad-mouth the work of a close ally. Romney isn’t running for commentator-in-chief, although that’s how the current president sees himsef.

This gaffe will blow over and shouldn’t have any lasting impact on the presidential race. Still, it’s “disconcerting” that on a visit intended to show Romney’s bona fides as a leader on foreign policy, he managed to offend an ally.

The non-gaffe is the statement by an unnamed Romney adviser to the Daily Telegraph that President Obama does not fully understand the “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of the U.S. and its “shared history” with the UK. Since Romney didn’t make the statement, any gaffe was not his.

But there was no gaffe. The U.S. does have a British heritage, and Obama plainly is not fully comfortable with it. His return to the British of the bust of Winston Churchill symbolizes his discomfort. More substantively, as a Romney adviser told the Telegraph, “Obama is a left-winger; he doesn’t value the NATO alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him.”

All true and all part of the message the Romney campaign should be delivering. Romney himself shouldn’t criticize Obama while overseas, and he didn’t. But unnamed advisers are free to do so.

Finally, some on the left have pounced on Romney’s use of the term “Anglo-Saxon.” I’m not sure why. The left is not hesitant to talk about WASPs. What are they, if not white Anglo-Saxon protestants?

“Anglo-Saxon” is acceptable shorthand for “English” or “British.” I suppose the Normans figure in there too. But they were imperialistic, colonialist oppressors, so the left shouldn’t mind their non-mention.

Perhaps the Jutes have a complaint for not being included with the Angles and the Saxons. I always said that Romney doesn’t look Jutish. There goes the Danish-American vote, I suppose.


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